The weather is set to be complicated over the next few days, creating the first major transition area of the race, and some tactical dilemmas for the teams.
The eastern group of the fleet is about to sail into an area with a front just south of them and a potential area of light winds ahead of them as the South Atlantic High evolves as it moves across the South Atlantic.
The western pair, race leader Garmin and second-placed Derry~Londonderry~Doire, appear to have got away in time to likely stay ahead of the small low due to wander down the coast.
Diane Reid, the Skipper of ClipperTelemed+, in seventh place, explains more. “It's not unusual for the high to split, however, the forecasting is showing that when it re-joins its traditional self, that it will be a bit lower than usual. This makes our strategy very interesting.
“Traditionally on this leg, one would hammer it south into 38S or 40S to pick up the westerlies and benefit from the great circle route of less distance west to east, then head north east’ish to get up to Cape Town at the last minute.
“However, we have this nifty split in the pressure systems with a solid front in between the two providing a north easterly flow of wind anywhere from 15 to 25 knots with the occasional gust of 30 in it.
“Depending on how well the prognosticating is with the GRIB files, this could be in place for another day or two before the St. Helena High re-establishes itself. Just on the south side of the front is some very disturbed or “cyclonic” air, meaning that it is coming from lots of different directions.
“This is also being driven by another low pressure system. We know that one system always drives another system and this is how the lows march their way around the Southern Ocean.
“It will be interesting to see how we can take advantage of riding the top side of the front while the rest of our fleet seem to be tucking into the middle of it,” Diane added.
The Skippers are also making their final decision as to whether they risk pushing for the Scoring Gate or not.
Huw Fernie, Skipper of eighth-placed Visit Seattle, said it was getting close to crunch time regarding the Scoring Gate.
“Do you go for the easy points a day and a half away or do you gamble with a short cut – missing the gate to get a better finish position in Cape Town? A lot can happen in ten days so having something in the bag is always nice.
“We have a plan for both options and are waiting on the latest weather file to come through before committing either way,” he added.
LMAX Exchange and Qingdao have restarted the race in a Le Mans start at 05
10 UTC on Sunday morning following repairs to both boats after they ran aground in Rio. They will race on elapsed time.
All positions correct as of 0900UTC.
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